Story by Emily Reed
Photos by Caroline Carmichael
Through the Grace of God Ministries in Clanton seeks to provide love and acceptance to anyone who walks through the door.
“We want people to not feel judged or ashamed when they come here,” said ministry co-director Sunday Hosch. “We serve so many people from different walks of life and facing different challenges or hurdles.”
The nonprofit ministry, which first began in 2001 as a part-time undertaking of Bro. Ralph Bingham, has grown into a full-time ministry operating in Clanton since 2005.
“Bro. Ralph had an auction business many years ago, and he came down to Chilton County and opened the auction house. He saw the needs of the local people, and felt the need to do a full-time ministry, so he put aside his auction business and focused his efforts on Through the Grace of God,” Hosch said.
Initially, the ministry began as a soup kitchen, helping those in need with food every week. Bingham expanded the ministry to offer a church, and now a church services are held on Thursday and Friday nights and Sunday mornings for anyone interested.
Bingham serves as the pastor for the services each week.
Hosch said on average there are about 40 to 50 individuals who visit the church each week.
Through the Grace of God Ministries is funded by private donations and fueled by a host of volunteers from local churches, individuals and anyone wishing to be involved with the ministry.
In addition to offering free food, food boxes and church services, the ministry also holds clothing drives and gospel singings.
The organization seeks to provide assistance to the less fortunate in Chilton County.
Long-term goals of the ministry include the opening of an outlet/thrift store center.
“We are really pursuing this right now, because we feel like it would help with donations for the ministry,” Hosch said. “Right now, we are donation based, so we spend a lot of time on different fundraisers, and we feel like if we opened an outlet/thrift store, we would be able to have a steady income coming in.”
Hosch said the ministry had some initial leads on places to build the center, but currently are hoping and praying for direction to another location.
“We would like to open a place in Clanton, but we are just waiting to see where God wants us,” Hosch said. “We thought we had a site, but that fell through so we are sort of back at square one. We know God will work it out for a reason.”
In the meantime, volunteers with the organization continue to raise funds for the ministry through a variety of ways including yard sales, an annual fundraising dinner, and community involvement.
Hosch said the ministry plans to host a “Dads and Daughters” banquet later this year, which will also be a fundraiser for the organization.
Currently, the ministry provides food to roughly 50 individuals each day by serving lunch three days a week and dinner two nights a week.
Volunteers help put together the meals, and serve them each day to whoever needs them or wants them.
“I think people would be surprised at how big the ministry actually is,” Hosch said. “We don’t get any federal funding, and we serve anyone that comes in the door. We do offer food boxes, which is a take home box that requires an ID, but anyone can come eat lunch or dinner here. We often have people that will just come by and fellowship or hang out that don’t necessarily need the free meal, but want to just visit with other people.”
The ministry solely operates on a volunteer basis, so Hosch said there is always a need for individuals interested in volunteering.
“We can never have too many volunteers,” Hosch said. “We can use anyone and everyone that is interested. God blesses us so much with a lot of donations, but we always need more help and we are always wanting more people to get involved.”
For more information about Through the Grace of God Ministries, visit the organization’s Facebook page.
Through the Grace of God Ministries is located on Eighth St. S in Clanton.